Friday, January 18, 2013

patience & persistence.

patience and persistence are kind of at opposite ends of the spectrum in my world. i have no patience, but endless amounts of persistence when the mood strikes me. i am learning to bottle both-- then i'll sell it at a profit, naturally.

but in all seriousness, i have been having a tough couple of months. i have had less and less patience, but my persistence got a sudden boost a few days ago. little c has gone through a pretty brutal change in his sleep habits-- meaning there is no sleep and it's become a habit. i have had two to three solid hours of sleep each night before he's woken me with a stubborn decision that he's all done sleeping for the night. try as we might, we couldn't break the cycle or convince him to sleep. good cop, bad cop was scoffed, singing and more attention was taken advantage of, the silent treatment brought loud rebellion, and after weeks of this pattern i finally cracked. let me tell you, it was a hard and messy way crack, too. for the fifth night in a row i was up from 2 until after 5 a.m. battling with beaz to just go to sleep or stay in bed or even just stay in his room so that i could catch just a short few z's in order to function. he was unwilling to budge and i was beyond tired. i eventually threw up my hands, burst into tears, shut his bedroom door and slunk downstairs to sit on the couch for a good, sobbing, ugly cry.

after a minute of letting myself explode snot and tears all over my sweatshirt, i shook myself off, dried my face, made a cup of coffee and grabbed paper and pen to begin a new plan. i listened at the monitor but naturally he'd given up and gone back to sleep. figures, right? with my pen and paper i began to map out a new routine. it only just occurred to me that perhaps we were allowing him to stay up too late at night, which was causing him to be overtired by bedtime. being overtired causes the body to produce adrenaline and cortisol in order to keep it going, so perhaps this was making it harder for him to go to sleep and stay asleep. that's what happens to me when i am running on fumes, so i should have guessed sooner that he could be having the same problem. we've had an 8:00 p.m. bedtime in place for a year because he was having a hard time going to bed at 7:00 and would wake up again at 11:00 p.m. bright eyed and ready to play. the 8:00 bedtime helped tremendously and he slept every night straight through. until he turned two. then it was like his clock changed. now my plan was to set a routine that pushed everything we do up an hour earlier. naptime is earlier, dinner and bathtime is earlier, bedtime is earlier. then i added a reward system by using his favorite: spider-man stickers. he gets spider-man stickers in the morning if he stays in bed all night and sleeps.

after i had finished mapping out my plans for his new routine, i went upstairs and woke him at 7:00 a.m. this only gave him an hour or two of sleep, but i knew i wanted him to nap early and he's no longer allowed to sleep later than 1:00 p.m. we had breakfast at the table, followed by teeth, vitamins, and music. no tv. a lot of morning start with a tv show around here. tv goes off after 30 minutes, but the day was beginning in front of the screen and i wanted to change it. so now it's music and dancing or playing after breakfast. then he may request 30 minutes of tv. if he doesn't ask, i don't put it on. then tv goes off for the day. we do active play together, letters, numbers, colors, etc., a snack, then books and naptime by 11 a.m. i also bribe at naptime with stickers. that morning it didn't work. he didn't take a nap. i tried again at noon with no success. by 1:00 no nap had been taken and i told him he couldn't have one now because he chose not to sleep at naptime. it was playing and eating and fun the rest of the day. by dinner he was begging for a nap but still he was not to have one. he started to fall asleep at the dinner table, but it was straight into the bath by 6:00. after bath it was teeth, jammies, and books. then straight into bed by 7:00. he went down without a peep and for the first time in over a month-- HE STAYED IN BED. at 5:30 he woke me by opening his door. i went in and explained it was still bedtime, and that if he went back to sleep he could have his stickers when it was time to wake up. and to my surprise, he DID! until 6:30!

it's been this way for two days now and it's amazing. today he took a nap without argument and he's been wonderful all day. i have been in a better mood because i have slept and i feel much better about our new routine. e told me something that didn't really dawn on me until later: "i am so proud of you. i expected to come downstairs and see you completely in a state of despair and instead you had rallied your energy to make a new plan for him instead of giving up." later i thought about it and i realized it was a hard choice, but one that had to be made. i knew that as 'mom' it was my job to structure his schedule and environment so that it worked well for him and for us. if he was getting overtired and having a hard time sleeping, i needed to find out why and how to fix it. i couldn't let this continue. lack of sleep was going to make somebody sick, probably me, but i was more worried that he would catch something (and there are a lot of somethings going around right now!). plus, how could we continue to function in that environment? we couldn't, that much was clear. i don't believe in giving up. if i had done this the easy way he would have continued to milk me for every ounce of energy i have. i know he's capable of change, as are we, and i didn't want to sell him or myself short by thinking we couldn't find a solution. it truly feels like an epic victory, even if it's only been two days. i don't want to jump the gun, but i sincerely hope that this keeps heading in a good direction for us all.

he may be stubborn, but he gets it from me. and i do so love that about him.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

spirit of the night

I admit that I have had it pretty soft and cushy in the sleep department over the past two years with little c. He has always been a fantastic sleeper and I have always felt blessed with the gift of rest, save for the  late night breast feeding in the first year. But year two. Ohhhh year two snuck up on me and bit me square in my yoga pants.

Beaz has decided he no longer needs to sleep at night. Not only does he turn his bedroom light on every time we leave the room but he gets up to play, he screams all night long for me, and he smiles whenever we sternly tell him that it's bedtime at 3:30 in the morning, not time to be up playing. I thought we had it conquered the past two nights, but alas, last night at 2:00 he was knocking on his door and his smiling little face peered up at me as I opened that door to ask why he was up. He tells me, recently, the light has to be on because of the monsters. And yet, I am always surprised that he doesn't cry about these figments of his imagination. He just gets up, puts the light on, and sits in his bed with his Spider-Man action figure and his Chewbacca stuffed animal. Even with his moon and star projector on, he insists on his light being on. I have tried to explain imagination, tried to flush out the idea of monsters, tried to tell him Spider-Man and Chewy will protect him, that mom and dad are always here... But last night none of these things got him off to dreamland. Last night he played in his room for hours until E finally swept him downstairs to sleep snuggled on the couch with him. And there they are right now, on opposite ends, passed out in similar fashion. Today was to be his first trial day of daycare and we had to reschedule it for Thursday. I couldn't stomach sending him overtired to such a new and possibly overwhelming experience. Plus, I think part of me just needed one more day at home with him before I send him to brave socialization and new friends. Though it is a very important step for him, I cannot imagine what I will do with one day off a week. I have been Mom every day and cook every weekend for over a year.. Now to have one day a week with Beaz off making new friends and learning good social behavior, what will I do? Something. I will do something awesome.

But back to my night spirit who is so frustratingly stubborn. I am now thinking I need a lamp on in his room. Not the overhead light that must singe his retinas, but a soft light, significant enough to provide comfort and protection from his monsters and dinosaurs and what-have-yous. Though, I have to say, the stubborn thing kind of makes me proud. I am stubborn as the day is long and it's only fair that my child be, too. But  in that stubborn little body lies the sweetest, most thoughtful, most kind and generous boy I have ever met. I am neverendingly surprised by the depth of his feelings, the stretches of his kindness, and his desire to just be accepted byband to accept those around him. Even at two years old I see this in him. I know, it sounds like projecting, but it is all there. The beautiful things a child can bring to light that we don't always see in every day life or in every person. They can find something in almost everyone that's worth liking, especially the things that make a person different. Sure, there are plenty of tantrums and arguments to go along with the hugs and kisses and silly stories, but it is just a part of the bigger picture that makes up one fantastic kid. My fantastic kid. Your fantastic kid. Your friend's fantastic kid. Your sister or brother's fantastic kid. All fantastic kids.  Built differently, thinking differently, loving differently, but still all primarily the same awesome bundles that we help sculpt into something great.